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Batman: Arkham City Q&A — Rocksteady Answers Your Questions

Sid Shuman's Avatar + Posted by Sid Shuman on Oct 14, 2011 // Senior Manager, Social Media

It’s been mere months since I belatedly finished Batman: Arkham Asylum and learned what all the fuss was about. Now, with Arkham City just days away from its October 18th PS3 release, I jumped at a rare chance to speak with Game Director Sefton Hill from Rocksteady Studios. I solicited some of your best questions from Twitter and hopped on the phone with Mr. Hill to discuss a wide range of topics related to one of my most-anticipated games for 2011. Before you dive into the Q&A, get into the spirit by watching the new “Rogue’s Gallery” video below.


PlayStation.Blog: In Arkham Asylum I was able to level up almost all of my skills by the end of the game. Does Arkham City bring more skill upgrades and more skill diversification, perhaps specialized character builds?

We’ve certainly expanded the number of upgrades in the game – we had 20 upgrades in Arkham Asylum, and we now have 33 different upgrades in Arkham City. There are a lot of ways to develop your skills and use them in the game. There’s not a massive skill tree, per se, though certain upgrades do unlock other upgrades. Ultimately, it’s more about how you decide to use your skills. We’ve really expanded those options with Arkham City.

PSB: Since you start with most of the gadgets from Arkham Asylum, will there be room for new gadgets?
Yeah. You start with five of the gadgets from Arkham Asylum: the Batarang, Bat Claw, Remote Batarang, Explosive Gel and Cryptographic Sequencer. And every single one of those gadgets has new features and improved useage. Overall, we’ve expanded the number of gadgets from eight to 12.

We have a number of new gadgets as well, such as the Remote Electrical Charge, called the REC for short. It’s a projectile-taser weapon that you can fire into enemies to stun them or fire at their gun to make it go off and create a distraction. The REC can also power machinery and create magnetic fields that work in some puzzles. Another new gadget is the Freeze Blast technology from Mr. Freeze: it can freeze enemies in place, or you can use it to freeze an enemy’s weapon and take it out of action. Our focus was to give the player as many options as possible.

PSB: What are the biggest refinements you’ve made to Batman’s controls, gameplay mechanics, and overall “feel” since Arkham Asylum?
The biggest thing we’ve focused on is his navigation and his ability to get around Gotham City, making that as exciting and fun as possible. The game is much bigger, a larger expanse but also much more vertical. We worked a lot on the glide system; when you’re gliding you can pull R2 to throw Batman into a dive. And as you hurdle towards the ground you can build momentum to propel you around the city. You can also get a grapple boost upgrade that boosts you off ledges and rooftops. And you can combine these two moves, the dive and grapple boost, to get around Gotham City without even touching the ground, if you get good enough.

What’s really nice is that you have to constantly be evaluating your surroundings like Batman would: where to dive, where to move as you weave through back alleyways and over the tops of buildings. It gives you the feel of being Batman in Gotham City. We wanted to live up to that promise.

Arkham City interview at gamescom

PSB: Will the Bat Cave be returning in Arkham City, and will it be featured more prominently than it was in Arkham Asylum? (via @PSIPodcast)
I don’t want to give away any spoilers! I can definitely say that we’re focusing on the key Batman elements: you have the action, but obviously the cerebral, the forensic, the psychological, being the world’s greatest detective and so forth. Those are all important elements, and we have them all in Arkham City.

PSB: All the new villains are part of the main quest or from side quest? I fear too many characters and too little time to develop them (via @OverlordZombie)
I think I understand that concern. From our point of view, though, we wanted to make the best story we possibly could. There was never an attempt to squeeze in extra characters for the sake of doing so; we just wanted a really strong Batman story. The story is about this relationship between Batman and the supervillains. Some of the villains are part of the main story, others are part of the side missions. We’ve spent as much time crafting the side missions as we’ve spent on the main story. They are in no way filler, they’re really great entertainment.

PSB: The boss fights are different, right? In Arkham Asylum many were very similar. (via @KevJones311)
In Arkham Asylum I guess we never really thought of the Titan henchmen as boss fights, but as part of the normal combat flow. I can certainly see the concern. When we think about boss fights, we look at the supervillain and how he can challenge Batman.

Take Mr. Freeze. He’s very powerful with his suit, so Batman can’t take him head-on. But Freeze is also super intelligent, so that fight is all about trying to outsmart Freeze. When you find a way past his defenses, when you manage to sneak up and hurt him, he’ll study your behavior and shut down the techniques you’re using. It’s dynamic. If he sees that you’re using the glide kick, he’ll reduce the temperature of the air in the room to freeze up Batman’s cape and stop you from gliding. If you use the floor grates, he’ll freeze them up so you can’t use them. As the fight goes on, the environment dynamically evolves.

Batman: Arkham-City - Game Photo

PSB: How has freeflow hand-to-hand combat been improved since the first game?
We didn’t want to overcomplicate the system. I think its strength is that it focuses on selecting the right move, not long combos or complicated sequences. You really feel like Batman when you play because it’s a very simple, very rewarding combat system. Now the number of options has been expanded massively.

We’ve added a lot of things, like simultaneous counters so that Batman can fend off two, three enemies at once. We added projectile counters, too, so he can throw objects back at enemies. Enemies can use combo attacks now, and you have to pull while countering multiple strikes. You can perform beatdowns, a series of really fast blows that can finish an enemy off without you having to use a takedown. You can even use your gadgets in combos: the Bat claw, the Explosive Gel, REC, even the Freeze Blast. It’s still really easy to pick up and play.

PSB: How much time will the average gamer spend in Detective Mode this time around? (via @TheMarriedGamer)
I understand those concerns. On the flip side, the whole point of the game is to experience what it’s like to be Batman: we didn’t want to reduce his effectiveness or drop a battery life meter on Detective Mode, because that wouldn’t be Batman. So we looked for other ways to solve the issue. We’ve done that by thinking of Detective Mode as being a way for Batman to hunt enemies down; you turn it off to navigate. That balance works well.

As an example, in Detective Mode now, the environment doesn’t look quite as clear. We pull the enemies out of the environment so you can identify and inspect them instantly but the environment itself doesn’t look quite as distinct. Then when you navigate, it will feel very natural to switch Detective Mode off. We still let the player use it when he wants to, though. We just had to find a more natural useage for it.

PSB: Can we drive the Batmobile or Batplane? (via @mitii5)
We did look at that, those are obviously key elements of the series. But after a lot of thought, we wanted to focus on the feeling of Batman moving through the city, this very vertical city. It’s an inhospitable place: it’s quarantined, it’s got roadblocks in place, so the best way to get around is to glide across the rooftops and through the streets. So that’s what we focused on. When you play, you’ll see why that’s the most effective way to travel.

PSB: I’d like further clarification on the things to expect in the Challenge Rooms. (via @Felix824)
People really enjoyed them last time — it’s a place to develop your combat skills and push them to the maximum. We added this idea of modifiers. There are 12 modifiers in all, and any combination of them can be applied to any challenge room to get a different experience. One example is a a protective aura that moves around the room between different enemies, so you have to pick and choose when to attack. Some of the modifiers are positive, too, such as one that allows you to smash through enemies who hold shields or tasers.

On top of that, we have a campaign mode where you face three challenge rooms in a row. But you start with as many as six modifiers and you have to use them all before you finish all three rooms. You can do them in any order: two in this room, four in the next or however you want.

Arkham City interview at gamescom

PSB: Will there be any hidden secrets similar to the Arkham City blueprints in Arkham Asylum? (via @RetroDLC)
We love that feeling of the Arkham DNA being throughout the environment in Arkham City. There are going to be lots of secrets and Batman references and Gotham folklore. And the Riddler’s coming back with a vengeance – he’s been plotting his revenge since Arkham Asylum. Throughout Arkham City are 440 different trophies to collect, and each one has its own puzzle. And to raise the stakes, Riddler has taken hostages this time. So if you don’t play his game…

PSB: What are you personally most excited for players to experience in Arkham City?
The thing I’m personally most proud of is how we balanced an open world with the strong, focused story. The feeling that you really are Batman and that feeling of being almost overwhelmed by the sheer number of things that you’ve got to do.

The other thing is just gliding through the city, grappling-boosting off the top of buildings, diving down through alleyways. I can’t tell you how many hours of work we’ve lost to that.

//Add Your Own

65 Comments   6 Replies

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1

+ Kryshalis on October 14th, 2011 at 7:22 am said:

Can’t wait for this! I have the Special Edition preordered. Now I’m going to have to hurry up and finish Dark Souls so I can play this title. Is it Tuesday yet?


    Sid Shuman's Avatar

     

    + Sid Shuman on October 14th, 2011 at 10:20 am said:

    I’m literally shaking I want to play this so badly. Shaking!


2

+ oXBISHOPXo on October 14th, 2011 at 7:33 am said:

damn tht looks good, you yanks are soooo lucky playing it 3 days before us Brits, ive got a week to wait!

Will there be any home features or PSN avatars?


3

+ Tremulan777 on October 14th, 2011 at 7:38 am said:

Cool I like this


4

+ Tremulan777 on October 14th, 2011 at 7:39 am said:

Cool I like this xd


5

+ RedGiant17 on October 14th, 2011 at 7:40 am said:

That trailer is awesome!

Can’t wait for Tuesday to get here now and put the cowl back on!


6

+ Williamsky on October 14th, 2011 at 7:56 am said:

Sony please ask Rocksteady to make a Vita Batman game also. These guys don’t disappoint. Can’t wait to pick up Arkham City it looks beautiful and looks to have everything I need to feed my inner Batnerd.


7

+ sNsKid on October 14th, 2011 at 8:06 am said:

I’m so ready for this.


8

+ LovesJapanManga on October 14th, 2011 at 8:54 am said:

I certainly HOPE YOU DID ASK THEM to develop a new Batman: Arkham Asylum or Arkham City or whatever another sequel is in the work for “Arkham” for Playstation VITA!!! BRING THE BATMAN GAMES TO VITA, PLEASE!!!


9

+ KwietStorm on October 14th, 2011 at 9:02 am said:

So you finally got around to it, huh Sid. Was it worth the wait?


10

+ X_FaDde2BLaCk_X on October 14th, 2011 at 9:14 am said:

I have a question. Will the U.S get the batman beyond costume for dlc. i really want that costume :(


11

+ Thwip on October 14th, 2011 at 9:39 am said:

A 9.5 over on IGN. Congratulations, I am looking forward to playing this.


12

+ TallCrowe on October 14th, 2011 at 10:17 am said:

Why does this game have an online pass? Seriously is Warner Brothers that afraid of people trading this in, or buying it used at some point?


13

+ TheGuardianFID on October 14th, 2011 at 10:31 am said:

Collector’s Edition pre-order is on the way, I can’t wait!!! 8)


14

+ killercroc119 on October 14th, 2011 at 10:35 am said:

THIS GAME WILL BE SO AWESOME !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I’M SO PUMPED !!!!


15

+ Spacerac on October 14th, 2011 at 10:35 am said:

I will not purchase nor play this game. I will not support games that block single player content with an online pass. When I purchase a brand new disc I expect to have access to everything with it right away. I bought the first Batman and bought it new. I just won’t be playing the second Batman.


16

+ killercroc119 on October 14th, 2011 at 10:36 am said:

Did anybody else play Arkham Asylum 5 times over just because they couldn’t wait ;)


17

+ zzamaro on October 14th, 2011 at 11:05 am said:

I’m getting this game but it sucks you are putting too much DLC onday 1 because of the different pre-order bonuses on different retailers =(

I agree with @12, the first one sold excellent and it’s a game that didn’t have an online component, considering that this gen online games sold the most. Like I said, I’m getting it new but it hurt me when I heard about it, I lost some respect for WB.


18

+ Taznorris on October 14th, 2011 at 11:11 am said:

This game looks so awesome, but they are taking out single player content and making people who buy used pay extra, so I might skip this and get something else, oh well.


19

+ Dwayne_AKA_OE on October 14th, 2011 at 11:33 am said:

would there be any unboxing video of the Collector’s Edition ?


20

+ MaxxAmmo on October 14th, 2011 at 11:46 am said:

Everybody needs to be peeved with RapeStop® for making obscene profits on Used Games and not the game developers for wanting a piece of that profit.

For ‘AAA’, hot titles you pay $5 less when the game is preowned. Now with the DLC costing $9.99 to play as Catwoman, all the developer is saying we’ll give you a BONUS for buying new. It’s not a penalty, it’s a BONUS!

Who loses? Only RapeStop®, who’s been laughing all the way to the bank reselling games at ridiculous profits. If you want to define the bad guy it’s not the people who work tirelessly to bring you incredible games!. Buy it new and enjoy the extra content on Day 1!


21

+ bakerarmy on October 14th, 2011 at 12:05 pm said:

I buy games new, but am sick of the online passes.

It wouldn’t matter to me if they called it a DLC Bonus, and wasn’t on the disc waiting for a unlock code. Also this add-on (even MP parts of games) needs to look at their trophies. What I mean by this is, it shouldn’t have trophies that you need for Plat. Just like real dlc or add ons they are blacked out. If they changed this, then I would fine with it. As a free add on. But it is not at the moment. They are just locking part of the game. Not every one has Internet and won’t play MP, but this pass is for catwomen mission during the SP game. Or look at rage, it was for sewer missions in SP.


    Sid Shuman's Avatar

     

    + Sid Shuman on October 14th, 2011 at 2:19 pm said:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.


22

+ tiuur on October 14th, 2011 at 12:08 pm said:

Any chance we see a playable demo on PSN someday?


    Sid Shuman's Avatar

     

    + Sid Shuman on October 14th, 2011 at 2:18 pm said:

    No word on that, haven’t seen any evidence of it.


23

+ dilbig5 on October 14th, 2011 at 12:15 pm said:

@mgsnull617

It would be a very long time before any AAA title like Arkham City becomes $20. They wouldn’t profit twice. You would be a new customer.


24

+ bakerarmy on October 14th, 2011 at 12:17 pm said:

I am buying this game, even bought green lantern today for the costume. However…..

Just getting tired of having to jump through hops to play a game. When I buy it new, I shouldn’t have to have a Internet connection to unlock parts of the game. I shouldn’t have to have a PSN account to play the game either. I do and am a Plus member, but that was my choice not the publisher or Sony’s. I understand games cost alot to make, but we get screwed with indie games too. Alot of things are over priced.

Movie companies do it to us all the time. Look at most big name movie release on disc. Bare bones with just the movie (transformers), I bet before Christmas they will release it again with the features it should of already had.

It is now happening to games, with no ps2 support they just rerelease them with upscale and trophys.


    Sid Shuman's Avatar

     

    + Sid Shuman on October 14th, 2011 at 2:18 pm said:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts (and doing so respectfully).


25

+ madecrazy on October 14th, 2011 at 12:37 pm said:

wow this games graphics are gorgeous they’re as good if not better than uncharted 3’s and im a HUGE uncharted fan infact i already pre-ordered it good work guys


    Sid Shuman's Avatar

     

    + Sid Shuman on October 14th, 2011 at 2:17 pm said:

    Life is good, no?


26

+ erick_34 on October 14th, 2011 at 12:46 pm said:

Batman: Arkham City look awesome.


27

+ Shacojin on October 14th, 2011 at 1:05 pm said:

Can’t wait to have it!! Please bring Batman Avatars to the PSN


28

+ GRG89 on October 14th, 2011 at 1:13 pm said:

So I heard its better to play Catwoman missions first…? Anyone know if this is true?


29

+ bakerarmy on October 14th, 2011 at 2:25 pm said:

Thanks Sid, I know I go on some times.

Just bought the game of the year edition Arkham asylum again. 20 bucks new. Can’t wait for city on Tuesday


    Sid Shuman's Avatar

     

    + Sid Shuman on October 14th, 2011 at 3:49 pm said:

    We’re open to all views, believe me. :) Can’t wait for Tuesday!


30

+ visual_pollution on October 14th, 2011 at 2:47 pm said:

@bakerarmy where did you find it for 20 bucks new?


31

+ bakerarmy on October 14th, 2011 at 2:51 pm said:

It was 22 new at toys r us. They had it on sale. 7.50 off or something like that. Had to pick it up for the old school 3-D


32

+ WrathOfRaph on October 14th, 2011 at 3:51 pm said:

i plan on buying a copy of this game but i have two ps3s. do i still get to access the catwoman storyline on both my ps3s? or do i have to buy online pass for one of my ps3s?


33

+ Cck17 on October 14th, 2011 at 3:54 pm said:

No PS3 exclusive content :(?


34

+ biggunner7 on October 14th, 2011 at 3:57 pm said:

Big fan of Batman,paid in full for the game already at gamestop, just like to know will game stop have any DLC for paying in full.


35

+ bakerarmy on October 14th, 2011 at 4:04 pm said:

@32, this is just one more hassle we have to go through with these passes that we shouldn’t have to. But you shouldn’t have to buy another code. Just have to put the same user account on both PS3’s. Download it again and any user on both systems should be fine as long as the user account associated to that DLC is not removed.

I have heard other owners complain that this dosen’t work all the time for some content.


36

+ Escaped_Shadow on October 14th, 2011 at 4:16 pm said:

I always liked batman but it seems like these games portray him the best. At first I was getting worried it looked like he was getting thinner and thinner but in the game its more evened out. His personality is even better, its seems like they try to portray him differently in today’s world hes either really tough (well sometimes), really smart, or just your regular ninja quiet and quick or maybe the greatest detective always looking for clues I mean really what is this Scooby Doo and it seems as if DC started to focus more on children then all the Batman fans. But whats good about the this game is that he has his classic batman suit. What is even more impressive is that if you look at the detail on the clothing it looks more fit for combat but still has the classic batman style going on. For me being a big batman fan since I was little this game just helped me keep the ideal of batman being one of the best super heroes. Well I just cant wait to get my hands on this games not just to see a classic batman but to witness an amazing story as well.

ps. Best graphics I seen in a while.


37

+ polo155 on October 14th, 2011 at 5:19 pm said:

I want this day 1


38

+ Spacerac on October 14th, 2011 at 5:22 pm said:

I want to say that I can’t stand buying used games. The only time I buy used games is when there’s literally no other option, like when I bought Ape Escape 2 a couple of years ago. I didn’t believe I could find that game anywhere new after how old it had been. What I have a problem with is being a loyal purchaser of brand new products and feeling like I’m being treated like a criminal by not having full access to the game when buying it new without having to enter any unlock codes.


39

+ ericscolon on October 14th, 2011 at 8:14 pm said:

Great another developer I had somewhat high hopes for goes and pulls something Crapcom does all the time. Locking content that is already on the disc with a code or making us pay for something we should already have access to as soon we pop the game into our systems without having to sign in to the network. Why not just have a long line of people to kick us in the junk when we purchase the game instead? When companies pull stuff like this is when I resort to gamestop or other places that sell used games. Otherwise I do my best to avoid these stores and buy new, unless I absolutely cant find a game anywhere else.
If theres an online pass for a game, that code better be solely for the online mutilplayer functions of a game it should not affect anything offline like single player or co-op. Was excited for this but now i’ll just wait until its really cheap before I consider buying it.
Gotta say this generation of gaming just keeps on disappointing even though there are great games already available and more coming out, but the good still doesnt come close to out weighing the bad. -_-


40

+ GhostofFire on October 14th, 2011 at 8:50 pm said:

Putting in a 12 digit code isn’t much of a hassle, and why aren’t you guys signed into PSN?….Ohh ok nvrmd!

It’s clear why companies are doing this, and I support it, EXCEPT the whole MW3 Elite. That’s a scam.


41

+ dsaBOSS on October 14th, 2011 at 9:14 pm said:

Are there any plans to release Arkham City PSN avatars/themes once the game comes out? I know a lot of people are wondering the same thing because of the goodies XBL got recently.


42

+ StinkyMoney5 on October 14th, 2011 at 10:04 pm said:

The whole Catwoman DLC thing pissed me off, so I nearly decided not to buy this game at all based on principle. But who am I kidding?! This game just looks too good too pass up…


43

+ M-Easy on October 15th, 2011 at 2:58 am said:

@Sid Shuman
You need more iron in your diet.


44

+ Manigamer on October 15th, 2011 at 4:55 am said:

cant wait to get my hands on the collectors edition of this :D

so do we get anything extra in arkham city if we have the save from arkham asylum etc ?


45

+ Kryshalis on October 15th, 2011 at 5:34 am said:

For those of you who insist on buying this game used, GameStop is going to be giving Catwoman codes for all purchases, new and used.


46

+ magicfan345 on October 15th, 2011 at 5:38 am said:

This game looks really awesome! I definitely plan on playing it at some point.
Unfortunately, I am very limited financially….. my $50 for Oct – Dec will be completely blown on renewing the Plus subscription (sure hope Sony appreciates getting all my hard-earned money).
Maybe in Jan – March or April – June I’ll be able to get this as my one game for the quarter.
I would just like to say, during these hard economic times, the Games developers and Entertainment companies should be trying to bring prices down, not raising prices and adding extra pass requirements which hurt the average consumer. Game companies and Gamestop are kind of like the NBA players vs owners in the current lockout – they’re all rich and fighting over a few millions that are meaningless to them, while hurting all the poor peasants below them who are barely scraping by. I love the NBA and love PS3 games, but its sad to be screwed by their greed.


47

+ lilbthedon2 on October 15th, 2011 at 6:33 am said:

yes yes yes yes yes batman arkham city is the number 1 game on my list next to call of duty modern warfare 3 it looks mega awesome


48

+ KUNUS3 on October 15th, 2011 at 12:21 pm said:

I hope this game is good


49

+ MeccaFlare0 on October 15th, 2011 at 4:20 pm said:

I will get it day one and play it in my Bat suit. lol
I suggest Batman AC Avatars on the PSN ASAP


50

+ Evolution_ten on October 15th, 2011 at 4:45 pm said:

FINALLY!!! its time for the big 4!!!! Batman bf3 u3 & mw3 !!!! dang sony u got me again with more than 200$ =D!!!hope ur happy


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